Saturday, 27 August 2011

Day 9 – 26th August 2011 – Budva/Kotor/Skadarsko Jezero/Sveti Stefan/Kanion Moraca

Today was a very long day of sightseeing. As for the trip to Albania, we were up at 5:50am ready for setting off at 7:00am. Our first stop was Budva, where we had a little time to look around the old town part of the city. There were some very nice streets here with pleasant italian-esque buildings, although it's clearly a little busier and touristy here as the prices are somewhat higher.

After Budva, we continued on to what was probably the highlight of today's sightseeing – we stopped off at Kotor, a medieval walled city that is listed on Unesco's world heritage list and is very beautiful. Lots of tall buildings and narrow streets also in an Italian style, with the possibility of climbing up quite some way to a church or monastery in the mountains. However, we didn't have time to do this and in temperatures of +35 degrees we thought we might well melt if we did! Due to it's attractive nature, mass tourism has caught here on here much more than everywhere else, evident in the number of souvenir shops with higher prices and the number of English people visiting. However, mass tourism here still compares favourably to anywhere else and is not nearly so developed as to be off putting like numerous other tourist cities, such as Prague. Outside the walls of the city there is also a market selling home-made rakija (the local spirit) and honey, as well as cheaper versions of the same souvenirs being sold inside the city walls. I chose a nice metal keyring with the Montenegrin crest on it, as I had wanted something with the crest on for some time.

After Kotor, we continued on to a photo stop of Sveti Stefan, the luxurious island that is now a luxury accommodation complex but one that has still retained it's character. We didn't stop here for sightseeing and so continued on to the Skadarsko Lake, where we had a very pleasant cruise on a boat with our hosts handing out rakija and a local sweet delicacy, as well as water, which was very welcome. In the middle of the lake, some of our fellow travellers got out for a swim – sadly, the water was too deep for me, so I didn't dare get out into the water! Still, it made for some interesting pictures.

After our little cruise we carried on further to see the very impressive Moraca canyon, which is very high and the mountains are very much like Montserrat in Barcelona. The view was extraordinary and we did some pictures here before carrying on a bit further to the monastery here, which is situated idyllically above the canyon. We almost had a nasty accident on the winding mountain road, as another coach on the other side of the road tried to overtake another vehicle when there was no room to do so, and with three cars abreast it only just missed hitting us head on. Luckily it managed to swerve and our driver hit the brakes but it was a pretty nasty shock and could have been very nasty indeed. Luckily we made it back in one piece. At the monastery itself there were some very cute little kittens at the entrance but they scampered as soon as we tried to take their picture.

Finally, on the way back we stopped off at a wayside 'restaurant' for something to eat after our long day, but the service, such as it was, was abysmal, and they charged us for four pieces of bread when we hadn't specifically ordered any, as it's usually free with the meal in most restaurants in these parts. Definitely wouldn't go back there and really the low part of the day. Still, all in all it was a good day, when we got back the landlord of the place brought us the home made wine he promised us, 1 litre for €6, very reasonable, I just hope I can get it back in one piece! Since it's such a special souvenir, it would be very disappointing for that to break as well. Now, after a very long day, I am going to take a shower and go to bed!

Link to Day 10:

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